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Don't Let These Misconceptions Stop You From Switching To Solar Energy

Don't Let These Misconceptions Stop You From Switching To Solar Energy
New Delhi: 

If the future is bright for solar, as many experts seem to suggest, then what is holding back mass adoption of this renewable source of energy? Why is it that in 2018-19, solar contributed just 2.85 per cent to the total energy generated in India? While solar's share may have grown from 1.97 per cent in the financial year 2017-18 to 2.85 per cent in 2018-19, thermal power still dominates the power sector despite the fact that the use of coal, fossil fuels is a major cause of air pollution.

According to the Ministry of Power, thermal power has been a major source of energy in India and currently contributes about 62.8 per cent to the total power generated in the country.

Also Read: Are You Planning To Switch To Solar? Before You Go Ahead Ensure These 5 Things Are In Place

According to industry experts, among all the sources of renewable energy, solar energy is the most ideal and feasible option to be installed at both the household level and industry level. Explaining the reason, Engineer Alekhya Datta, Fellow and Area Convenor, Electricity and Fuels Division, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), said,

Solar energy is omnipresent; its cost is coming down making it less expensive; it can be installed at household level through rooftop solar system.

Despite the government's push to solar energy through various incentives and schemes, solar energy has not kicked off completely; it's still at a nascent stage; the reason being misconceptions and lack of information among people.

Here is a fact check on some of the myths about solar energy that is preventing its wider acceptance.

Myth: Switching to solar is expensive

Fact: One of the most common myths is that solar is expensive and requires huge capital investment. Until 2017, installing solar power plants did require a hefty amount, but at present, solar power cost has come down significantly. One can install a 1 kW rooftop solar power plant by spending about Rs. 40,000 and can recover the investment in four to five years. The life of solar power panels is 25 years; after the payback period (let's say it's five years), for the remaining 20 years, a household can enjoy free energy.

Moreover, if you opt for RESCO (Renewable Energy Service Company) model - under which a third party makes the investment and you have to pay a pre-decided tariff on the basis of your monthly energy consumption – solar power is cheaper than conventional power. Currently, the rate of energy across India is Rs. 6 to Rs. 8 per unit whereas solar tariff is Rs. 3 to Rs. 3.50 per unit, said Dr S.P. Gon Chaudhuri, an Electrical Engineer and International Expert in the field of Renewable Energy.

Myth: Solar power plants are high maintenance

Fact: Solar power plants require little to no maintenance. When solar power plants are installed, the vendor takes responsibility for operation and maintenance for the next five years. Post that, an individual can either take the AMC (Annual Maintenance Contract) or clean the panels on their own, regularly.

In nature, a solar plant is truly a silent performer. It does not make any noise; there are no moving parts, no friction and no wear and tear. Only periodic cleaning (once every fortnight) is required to remove the dust and fog (in winters) from the glass of the solar panels, said J. P. Singh, founder of J. P. Consultants, a solar consultancy firm.

Also Read: Save Power For More Power: Five Easy Ways To Conserve Energy And Be Energy Efficient

Myth: Solar power plants do not work in winters and rainy season

Fact: Solar power plants need sunlight to work so even when if it's raining and there is a bit of sunlight, solar power plants will work. Explaining the reason behind this, Mr Singh said,

Solar plants operate on the principle of photovoltaic. Under this principle, light is converted into heat. The measurement of light is carried in irradiance (flux of energy) per square meter. During the rainy season, irradiance drops down resulting in less generation of power. This is true that power is reduced but it is also true that power gets generated as per the available irradiance levels.

During the rainy season and winters, a 5 kW plant will definitely not produce 5 kW of energy. It might produce only 2 kW or 3 kW of energy, but as long as there is sunlight, the solar power plant will work.

The maximum amount of energy through solar power plants is generated during late March and early April that too during early morning hours like 10 am, said an official from the power department of Delhi Government.

Myth: Batteries are needed to store solar energy

Fact: Gone are the days when solar power plants were battery operated and required huge space to keep the battery and then its maintenance was another task. These days, grid solar plants are in use. The power generated from solar plant is used in the day time and the unused power is exported to the local DISCOMs (Distribution Companies) grid on a daily basis. After sundown, energy is imported from the grid just like in the absence of solar power plants. This is called on-grid solar system.

At the end of the month, all the exported power is credited into the bill. Since the excess power is exported, there is no wastage of energy therefore, there is no need to store the power, said Mr Singh.

Myth: Heavy appliances like air conditioner, refrigerator cannot be run through solar power

Fact: A household can run all kinds of home appliances and electronic devices on grid based solar power. When a solar power plant is connected with a local grid, both share the load which means you will never run out of power. Explaining the same through an example, an official from the power department of Delhi Government, said,

Let's say your AC requires 4 kW of energy per hour, but due to lack of sunlight, only 1 kW is generated through solar. The remaining requirement of 3 kW will be fulfilled through the grid operated by local DISCOM.

Also Read: This Mumbai Housing Society Fulfills 42 Per Cent Of Its Daily Energy Requirement Through Solar

Myth: You cannot change house after switching to solar power

Fact: An individual can relocate as and when needed. While selling the house, an individual has two options – either to sell it along with the panels, this will obviously increase the price of the property; detach the solar panels and reinstall them at the new location. This process won't affect the lifespan of solar panels or their efficiency.

Myth: Solar panels are prone to damage from wind, animals and birds

Fact: Solar panels are robust and sturdy. If they are mounted well, they can withstand heavy winds and storms. As far as damage from birds and animals is concerned, solar panels have toughened glass to prevent easy breakage. This means, monkey sitting, standing or jumping on solar panels won't cause any damage. Also, bird droppings can reduce the efficiency of a panel but if one cleans the panels regularly, there is nothing to be worried about.

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About The Campaign

About The Campaign

NDTV in partnership with Luminous has launched an awareness campaign ‘Be A Bijli Donor’ to promote the idea of ‘save power for more power’. The idea is to conserve energy today in order to get more power tomorrow.

 

We inherently know that saving energy results in low energy bills, but we also need to understand that a unit of energy saved today makes it available for people still living in the dark or facing regular power cuts.

 

Saving power or conserving energy is about knowing the sources of energy, and areas of wastage and thereby eliminating these through technology and lifestyle changes. For instance, a 100 W (Watt) incandescent (ICL) bulb can be replaced with a 9 W LED bulb offering similar performance in terms of light output, but at far lower consumption of energy.

 

While a 100 W ICL bulb, used for four hours a day, consumes 146 units of energy per year, a 9 W LED bulb requires only 13.5 units per year. Clearly, switching to LED is a smart choice as it provides the same output while consuming 90 per cent less energy.

 

The focus of the campaign is to instill the idea of ‘save power for more power’ and in order to do so, the initiative will create awareness about energy efficient products and services, smart ways to reduce power consumption, alternate sources of energy like solar energy and the need to conserve energy. The idea is to address the rising need for energy conservation in India.

 

As part of the campaign, we will highlight the stories of individuals and organisations who are championing the cause of energy conservation by switching to renewable sources of energy, adopting innovations to reduce energy consumption while enjoying the same output.

 

The initiative will provide a platform for all stakeholders to share their ideas and work towards the common goal of, ‘Save power for more power’.